What is Kawaii? Everything You Need to Know

What is Kawaii? Everything You Need to Know

Let’s admit it, we all love cute things. Some of us might even think that we are obsessed with it not until we learn about how Japanese love cuteness. In fact, cuteness has become a well-established part of Japanese culture.

But what does kawaii really mean and where did it come from?

What is Kawaii?

Kawaii is derived from the word “kawayushi” which means embarrassed, pathetic, shy, vulnerable, lovable, and small. Actually, kawaii is an ambiguous word and it could mean a lot of things. But what does kawaii mean in modern days has changed, it has simply become “cute.”

Much more than just a word, kawaii has become a huge part of the Japanese culture and is found in almost everything - anime, kawaii fashion, art, music, lifestyle, and more!

History of Kawaii

According to records, kawaii dates back in the ’70s. It rose together with the emergence of a new style of cute writing by teenage girls who use mechanical pencils. These mechanical pencils, when used, create a much finer line compared to traditional Japanese writing.

With these pencils, the Japanese teenage girls were able to write big, round characters with cute little pictures that were banned in schools due to how hard it is to read it. But eventually, it was able to reach comics and magazines. And in no time, it has become an inspiration for kaomoji and emoji.

But aside from this handwriting, there is another huge thing that influenced the world of kawaii. Can you guess it?

It’s Hello Kitty!

Hello Kitty, Sanrio’s most famous character, promoted the kawaii culture not just in Japan but in almost all places around the world. And, it did not only promote the culture for years, but for decades!

And with it, Hello Kitty has become the most famous icon for the kawaii culture.


But Why In Japan?

If we think about it, other countries have more famous characters and things that can be considered as kawaii. They even have Disney!

In Western Countries, the word kawaii is associated with a childishness that even when Hello Kitty has gradually changed how it is perceived, other people still consider it a taboo.

But this is not how kawaii was accepted in Japan. In Japan, kawaii is just a normal thing for both children and adults. It is a widely accepted concept that has slowly crept to be a part of their culture.

In fact, kawaii has become an escape for the Japanese people. It has become their way to get away from stress and extreme pressure from either work and school. It has also become a way to express themselves in kawaii clothing, art, and lifestyle.

But if you think that kawaii is just a regional peculiarity, then you are definitely wrong. Science has found a good reason for how useful kawaii is in everyday life. According to a study conducted at the University of Hiroshima, the use of cute images and objects in workspaces to improve productivity.


Kawaii has taken the world by storm. It has become well-known before and its popularity is still on the rise nowadays. It can’t be denied that a lot of us are fond of it whether we are aware or not. Afterall, kawaii is more than just a fad - it's a lifestyle and a part of culture!